Your first baby is the biggest learning curve of your life! Forget your first job or your first year of marriage. Those first few months with a newborn are a real-life ‘learn-by-doing’ experience like no other.
In this next series of blog posts, we will be talking about the 5 most asked questions by new moms.
Arguably, the most asked question is - how often should I breastfeed my newborn? They need feeding, we have the necessary ‘equipment’, so how many times a day, and for how long do I feed this perma-hungry little bundle of crying joy?
Some of our memories surrounding this topic include:
- The oh-so-sore nipples – why did no one mention this little nugget before??
- The hour-long feeding sessions (only to have baby throw it all back up again)
- The questions to the lactation consultant ‘Are my nipples supposed to look (and feel – ouch!) like this?? And ‘She wants to nurse all day long! What do I do??’
While the answers weren’t always what we wanted to hear i.e. yes, feed her all day long, and yes, those nipples look normal for a breastfeeding mom, having someone to ask was a Godsend. So, here is what we learned.
(Note: We are not doctors, nurses, lactation consultants or even currently breastfeeding moms, so please consult a professional if you have specific questions about your breastfeeding journey)
- I don’t have see-through breasts, so how do I know how much my baby has consumed?? Newborns have small stomachs and require frequent feedings to ensure they are getting enough nutrition. Feeding on demand is recommended. This means feeding whenever baby shows signs of hunger: smacking their lips, sucking on their hands, turning their head towards the breast, fussing.
- Newborns may need to breastfeed as often as every 1-3 hours, and it's essential to feed them whenever they show signs of hunger, even if it's more frequently than that. Frequent feeding helps to establish a good milk supply and stimulates production. It's also essential to allow your baby to feed for as long as they want on each breast to ensure they are getting enough.
- Baby's cues for when they are finished feeding include releasing the breast on their own, falling asleep, or turning their head away from the breast.
- One of the biggest ways to tell if your baby is getting enough milk is by monitoring their weight gain and their diaper output. In general, newborns should be gaining weight and having at least six wet diapers and several bowel movements each day.
While there are many similarities in each mom's breastfeeding journey, this is yours. Relax, and enjoy this unique bonding time. Listen to the sounds your newborn makes, hold their little hand, look at their delicate skin, and don’t rush to be finished. This small moment in time will be fleeting and you’ll want to savor every moment. Everything else can wait, this is the most important part of the day…even if it is ALL DAY in the first few weeks!
Breastfeeding is a learning process for both you and your baby, and with time and practice, it will become easier and more comfortable.